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Wind Energy

Volume 503: debated on Thursday 7 January 2010

9. What estimate he has made of the number of wind energy projects approved by local authorities in the last two years; and if he will make a statement. (308895)

Local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales have approved 76 onshore wind energy planning applications in the last two years. All planning applications for wind energy in Northern Ireland are determined by the Northern Ireland Planning Service. There is now over 3 GW of installed capacity of onshore wind operating in the UK.

Is the Minister concerned about the number of Conservative and Liberal councils that oppose onshore wind farms, and about the Conservative MPs who oppose offshore wind farming? Does he realise that their opposition is sabotaging the £1 billion investment in renewables by the Labour Government?

The leader of the Conservatives says that we can judge what a Conservative Government would do by looking at their record in local government. They have an abysmal record of holding up and rejecting applications for onshore wind farms.

Although wind power can make a contribution to Britain’s energy needs, does the Minister also accept that local authorities have an important role to play in listening to the desires of their local residents? [Interruption.] If wind farms are appropriately placed, yes, but if they are inappropriately placed, they do damage the future of the industry.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the planning laws are there to strike an important balance between nature conservation and biodiversity on the one hand, and, on the other, the vital need for more renewable energy.